Weeks host Amherst tonight to open three games in three days
NEW GLASGOW – Tonight won’t only be a close game because it’s Weeks’ rival coming to town, but because they are two closely matched teams.
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Weeks Crushers forward Stephen MacInnis said he has enjoyed every opportunity he has been given on the ice in his first year with Pictou County, as well as the opportunity to give back to the community off the ice. He said he hopes to continue to play a key role in the team’s success down the stretch.
Four of the six meetings between the Weeks Crushers and Amherst Ramblers have been decided by a goal, two of those in a shootout. Pictou County forward Stephen MacInnis said it comes down to both teams being evenly matched and special teams making a difference.
This season in their meetings Amherst is 3-20 on the man-advantage, while Pictou County is 2-25, although two of Amherst’s power play goals were on Nov. 30 when they went 2-2 and won the game 5-4.
“When we get our power play chances we need to use those to score and when we get our PK chances we need to keep them from scoring,” he said.
That’s something MacInnis understands all too well, being one of the Crushers main penalty killers this season. Coming into the season that was the role he wanted and expected to play. He’s happy with how his shutdown role has been going, but feels his offence could use some work.
“I’m not much of a power play guy, but as much respect as I have for those guys going out there on the power play and me relying on them to score a goal, I hope the boys look at me the same for going out on a penalty kill to prevent a goal,” said MacInnis. “I felt like it’s (offence) been getting better, but my points haven’t been showing it. I’m definitely getting more offensive minutes, working the puck down low and getting pucks to the net. That’d be one big thing I’d like to see in the playoffs is seeing if I can bang in a few more goals and help the boys a little more on offensive.”
Playing with Evan Carmody and Jordan McInnis as of late, he said they have been finding ways to generate more offence, but that when it comes down to scoring goals the team looks to their bona fide goal-scorers.
“We’ve had that shutdown role, but at the same time when push comes to shove in the playoffs we feel that we can generate offence, even if it’s just offensive minutes and getting some momentum,” he said. “When the time is right and there are David Stephens, Mitchell Deruelle and guys like that out there with a chance to score a goal, you definitely want the puck on their stick.”
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With seven games remaining in their regular season the Crushers have five games at home and two on the road. They sit in second place in the Eastlink Division behind the Truro Bearcats, but hope if they have a strong finish they can regain top spot.
MacInnis said they hope home ice will be an advantage and play a part in doing well to wrap up the regular season, although going into tonight’s game their record at home is 13-4-4 and on the road isn’t far off at 17-6-1.
“It’s definitely an advantage because before Christmas we were on the road a lot,” he said. “It’s one of those things where you’re always travelling and those long three-in-three days where you’re sleeping in hotels, which can catch up with you. Being home and playing in front of the home fans will be something that will be a huge advantage going into playoffs and trying to end the season on a good note.”
He added that this stretch of time at home could make a difference in having home ice throughout the entire playoffs or just one round, but that they feel confident being able to play in any rink.
“I think home ice advantage would be huge for sure, but the only thing we can do now is win out for the rest of the season and hope Truro slips up and drops a point,” said MacInnis. “It’s great to play here in the Wellness Centre with our fan support, but I think when push comes to shove, no matter whether we’re home or away I think we can still get the job done.”
Goals for: 178
Goals against: 121
Record against Amherst: 4-1-1
Vs. Amherst Ramblers
Goals for: 178
Goals against: 132
Game time: 7 p.m. at the Pictou County Wellness Centre
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris